But the most important and most unexpected part of our trip was ahead of us outside the boundaries of the old Central German Mission. We drove the next morning down to the Frankfurt area, where the church had recently completed a temple. In the light snow we walked around the beautiful building, took some pictures and talked to some American missionaries. I asked at the desk where one might stay — Frankfurt is actually many miles away from this rural town and I hadn't seen any motels nearby. The person at the desk said, "Oh, you could have stayed here — we have several rooms available but they just filled two minutes ago."
"But," she continued, "there is a sister who has a place near here. She rents out rooms to temple visitors. Here's the number."
I called and, fortunately, she had space for us. Not only that, when we arrived, white-haired Schwester Hansen fed us a sumptuous German dinner. After our long day's drive, we were anxious to get straight to bed, but Schwester Hansen said cheerfully, "Would you like to see my photo albums?" I translated this for 16-year-old Evan and I could tell he would much rather have gone to bed — and so I would have preferred. But she had been so good to us.
Soon a large photo album was spread before us going back many years. We tried very hard to look interested. I asked her how long she had lived in the Frankfurt area. "Oh, I'm not from here — I live up near Düsseldorf. I just rented this apartment because I knew people would need a place to stay when they came to the temple."
She had shown us some pictures of one of her children who was in a wheelchair. She mentioned that he was one of 13 children. That made me start thinking.
Thirteen children is highly unusual for a German family. Then she said, "We've had a lot of sickness in our family. I've been ill a lot, too."
Could it be? A memory started to awaken.
"Did you ever have heart problems?"
"Yes," she admitted.
"Did you once come into the mission office in Düsseldorf seeking a blessing from the mission president? But he was not there, so you were blessed by his two assistants?"
She looked at me with squinted eyes. "Yes." I asked her to excuse me a moment. I went back into our bedroom and extracted my mission diary from our luggage. I hurried back, and leafed through the pages until I found the right spot. Then I read to her what happened on that miraculous day.
It was a Sunday morning in the winter of 1966. A heavy snowfall had covered the streets. President and Sister Horace Beesley had left early for a meeting in Wuppertal. Elder Steve Smith and I had just stopped by the office before we were to travel out ourselves. A couple came into the office and asked to see the mission president. The woman looked very ill — exceptionally pale and weak. We brought them both into the president's office and asked if there was anything we could do. "I just came from the hospital," said the woman. "They didn't want me to leave but I just had to. I have nine children to care for and they need me at home. I have a very bad heart problem. Feel my hands and my face." They were both pale and ice cold. "But I know if you bless me, I will recover. God will heal me and let me take care of my children. Will you do that for me?" I had given blessings before but never to someone who appeared so ill. She had much more faith than I felt I had. Elder Smith and I looked at each other and asked to be excused for a minute. We went down the hall into his office.
"We need to pray," he said. We prayed. We asked that we be able to give a blessing that would be equal to the trust this good woman was putting into the Lord's priesthood holders. This seemed to be a life or death situation to us. We went back into the president's office. The woman's husband did not feel he could participate in the blessing. Elder Smith, being the senior companion, anointed her with consecrated oil. I put my hands, with Elder Smith's, on her head and started to bless her. At first the words just wouldn't come. I felt nervous and self-conscious. But then something happened. The German started to flow. Powerful impressions. Whole sentences. I pronounced a blessing I had no earthly capability of pronouncing. I used words I didn't know. I gave her advice I didn't understand. I promised her a full recovery and the ability to return to her children and take care of them. I had not experienced such feelings before — feelings of confidence and knowledge and goodness. This was something beyond normal life experiences.
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